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Cayman’s Tourism Industry Honors Outstanding Work with Stingray Awards




Southern Cross Club’s Peter Hillenbrand Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

The Cayman Islands honored the best of the best in the tourism industry during the annual Stingray Awards gala in June. The awards were created by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism to reward outstanding work in the industry, and the recognition comes after a busy high season. All year long divemasters, concierges, beach staff, food servers, shop attendants and others do their best to make sure guests have a great time while on vacation in the Cayman Islands.

To reward them for that hard work, hoteliers, dive operators and other tourism related businesses nominate employees for the awards, and the winners are selected by committee. The winners receive a crystal stingray trophy during the celebration which has become a highlight of the year for the tourism industry, a pillar of Cayman’s economy.

Stingray Award Winners included:

  • Lois Hatcher, Ocean Frontiers – Watersports Employee of the Year
  • Daniel Bond, Red Sail Sports – Watersports Manager of the Year
  • Betise Bodden, Sunset House – Accommodation Employee of the Year
  • Pat Kenney, Tortuga Divers (Red Sail Group) – Long Service to Tourism Industry

CITA President Ken Hydes received a special Tourism Minister’s Award and owner of the Southern Cross Club on Little Cayman Peter Hillenbrand was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the industry.

“To be honored with a Life Time Achievement Award by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and my peers in the Cayman tourism industry is an honor beyond compare,” said Hillenbrand. “There are so many people I respect and admire in Cayman’s tourism product that it is a bit humbling for them to single me out for this honor.”

After almost 30 years in the dive industry, Lois Hatcher’s passion is coral restoration. She has been involved in two major reef restoration projects in Cayman and is currently managing Ocean Frontiers’ new coral nursery.

“I feel honored that I was recognized for what we have done here and I emphasize the we,” said Hatcher. “When I came back here three years ago my goal was to get Coral Nurseries started in Cayman. So I guess, and once again there were many people involved, that is my proudest achievement.”

Pat Kenney, recognized as one of the founders of Stingray City, has also been involved in Cayman’s tourism industry for decades. Marine conservation and sustainable tourism is a priority for him, in light of development projects in the works.

“These islands, it’s people and environment have always been an easy “sell” and the main reason visitors come here,” he said. “Destroying our precious reefs and flora/fauna for cruise ships, or another golf course appear to not have the island or its inhabitants in mind.”

Sunset House General Manager Keith Sahm says Cayman’s oldest surviving resort requires a special touch to maintain, just like a classic car. Betise Bodden, recently promoted to Lead Housekeeper overseeing the overall quality and cleanliness of the property, has that special touch.

“Month after month, her work has been consistent while being exposed to the basic elements of our climate. It’s back breaking work without which no resort could remain in demand or maintain its rating on websites like Trip Advisor. We function and succeed due to the efforts of stellar employees like Betise and are proud of her accomplishments,” said Sahm. “Day after day she never complains or misses work and she sets the bar for other employees to follow. We fully appreciate her and thank her deeply for her efforts.”

Cayman’s tourism product is recognized as among the best in the Caribbean for its white sand beaches, clear blue waters, spectacular reefs, awesome marine encounters and accommodations for every budget, but everyone acknowledges that people make the difference.

“Stingray Awards are important because they recognize the passion and enthusiasm people who work in the service industry portray,” said Red Sail Sports Operations Manager Rod McDowall. “It is an opportunity to recognize both the front and back of house staff, the new to the ranks and those who have dedicated a good portion of their lives to tourism. Product in tourism is important, but the people that showcase the product more often than not are the ones that create the vacation memories of visitors.”


And the winner of our Waterproof BODY 2X Power Stretch Hollow Fiber Undergarment competition is…



We’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who entered our competition to win a Waterproof BODY 2X Power Stretch Hollow Fiber Undergarment as a prize!

As usual, lots of you entered… but there can, of course, be only one winner!

And that winner is…

  • Megan Kinsey from the UK

Congratulations Megan – your prize will be on its way to you soon!

Not a winner this time? Don’t worry – there are plenty of other competitions running on right now. To see what other awesome prizes you could be in with a chance of winning, click here!

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Gear News

Aqualung launches all new XSCAPE Collection featuring eco-responsible wetsuit



Aqualung has announced the launch of its all new XSCAPE collection. Featuring a 100 percent neoprene-free wetsuit and a rash guard made from sustainable materials, the XSCAPE line is designed for a variety of water activities and reflects Aqualung’s commitment to innovation, ocean discovery and sustainability.

Made with Yulex® eco-friendly natural rubber and ultra-stretch fabric, the 4/3mm XSCAPE wetsuit provides enhanced comfort for diving in warm waters or above surface activities in colder temperatures, and can be used for scuba diving, snorkeling, freediving, paddling or a variety of other water sports. The flexible and lightweight XSCAPE wetsuit, available in a red and olive design for men and a tropical-inspired print for women, connects consumers to nature and the natural materials the collection is made from. The suit also features Powertex knee pads, recycled, quick-drying fleece around the torso area to provide additional warmth and comfort, and a reusable mesh bag for storage after use or collecting trash from the beach or water.

“The XSCAPE collection continues Aqualung’s legacy in innovation and their tireless work to create the most forward thinking and eco-conscious dive company in the world,” said Aqualung global ocean ambassador Philippe Cousteau Jr., the grandson of one of Aqualung’s original founders, Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau. “We all have the power to change the world with the choices we make and the XSCAPE sets the new standard for wetsuits and rash guards that are stylish, functional and sustainable.”

The new collection’s long-sleeve rash guard for men and women, and matching women’s leggings, offer maximum comfort and breathability and can be used above or below the surface. All rash guards and leggings feature UV protection and are made with polyester fabric sourced from recycled plastic bottles. The entire XSCAPE line comes in plastic-free packaging with hangtags made from recycled cardboard.

“Our aim was to design the ultimate eco-friendly wetsuit that could be used for all kinds of water sports,” said Laurent Boury, Senior Vice President of Brands at Aqualung Group. “Aqualung is committed to using environmentally-friendly materials and processes whenever possible to help reduce our carbon footprint and we made design choices to ensure the XSCAPE collection was as sustainable as possible.”

“The collection name, XSCAPE, is meant to evoke the feeling of freedom and the quest for wonder that surround exploration, travel, and Aqualung’s storied history, including the first “aqua-lung” created by Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau and engineer Emile Gagnan that made underwater exploration possible,” added Boury.

To learn more please visit

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email

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